1. Why Email Makes You So Stressed (And 3 Fixes For Overwhelm)

    When I’m doing email triage, I often feel as if I’ve fallen into a trance. Every so often, I’ll look up from the screen and think, Whoa—was I even breathing just now?

    It turns out that I have email apnea—a term coined by former tech executive Linda Stone that refers to the habit of interrupted breathing while checking email. In observing others informally, Stone noticed that a lot of people unintentionally hold their breath or breathe shallowly when starring at a screen.

    If that’s not a good indication of contemporary society’s unhealthy relationship with email, I don’t know what is. But there are steps we can all take to reduce our body’s stressed-out reactions to a full inbox.

    The psychology of inbox stress

    The theory of operant conditioning describes how our behavior is shaped by rewards and punishments. If I’m a lab rat, and every time I press a button in my cage I receive an electric shock, guess what? I’ll learn to stop pressing that button. Likewise, if I get a treat when I press the button, I’m more likely to do it again and again.

    One of the most surprising findings of this theory is that if you want to train an animal, rewarding them consistently for the correct behavior is not the best way to do it. What’s more effective is to only give the animal a reward sometimes, at random intervals—a principle known as intermittent reinforcement.

  2. 3 Shifts To Free Yourself From Perfectionism

    In the real world there are no gold stars for effort or report cards to gauge your progress. Yet a common mistake is treating work like school. As CEO and author, Sallie Krawcheck points out:

    Let’s not confuse what made us successful in school for what can make us successful in our careers.

    While an honor roll mindset can translate into a drive to succeed that lands you deals and accolades, it can easily lead to workaholism and burnout. The industriousness that served you well in school may now be what’s actually hindering your productivity and professional progress.

    That’s because when you hold yourself to exacting standards — as many high-achievers do — you can get caught in the trap of perfectionism.

    The result? Feeling perpetually frustrated, stressed, unacknowledged, or like you never measure up.

    Here’s some signs an Honor Student Hangover might be costing you:

    You beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

    For you, a goof is really hard for you to rebound from — even if it doesn’t have a larger effect on your career standing.

    Perfectionists experience shame, as opposed to guilt, over screwing up. Shame says “I am bad” (which suggests a character flaw) whereas guilt says, “I did something wrong” (which suggests it’s in your control to fix or improve).

    If something isn’t perfect, it’s not good enough.

    You insist on dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” on every single task, or else it just doesn’t sit right with you.

  3. 4 Things I Learned About You from My 2018 Reader Survey

    Recently, I asked you (my readers!) to take a survey so I can learn more about what you struggle with when it comes to mentally and emotionally thriving in your career. I like to do this because it’s one of the best ways to get real, helpful feedback from the people I care about serving the most: you.

    This year I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of asking you boring, surface-level demographic questions about your age and gender, I wanted to get to know you on a deeper level. The survey dug into your biggest challenges, most ambitious goals, and aspirations for the future.

    For the past few days, I have been pouring over the results. Your responses were varied and fascinating. Some topics I expected, others surprised me. The results gave me so many ideas about how I can help you achieve the success you want (without going crazy) and craft a career that’s aligned with who you are.

    To the hundreds of you who completed the survey, thank you! Your responses shape the direction of the content I create for you in the months to come. The feedback you provide help me serve you better and ensure you get what you need (and the results you want to see) from my blog, free trainings, and other resources I provide.

    So what did I discover? Here are a few of the key themes that emerged, and more importantly, what you can expect from me in response:


  4. Why Successful People Set Goals in September, Not January

    The summer is over. School is back in session. Business is picking up again.

    If you feel a renewed sense of motivation right now, you’re not alone. There’s mounting evidence that “September is the new January” when it comes to setting goals.

    In fact, studies find that enrollment in weight loss programs rises in the Fall, along with online searches about career development.

    It’s clear change is the air, but why?

    The Psychology of New Beginnings

    September is a popular time for reinvention and renewed motivation because of something behavioral economists have dubbed the “fresh start effect“. Put simply, this principle suggests that it’s easiest to adopt to habits at natural transition points. A new beginning may be signaled by an occasion like a birthday or a temporal landmark like the first of the month. Changing seasons can also provide a clean slate.

    We use the start of a new week, month, or year as a marker to put past behavior behind us. These transition points gives us “freedom to become a new, better version of ourselves”, notes Inc. columnist Jessica Stillman.

    Taking Advantage of the ‘Fresh Start Effect’

    So instead of waiting for the New Year to set goals, why not make progress now?

    Start by taking time for self-reflection. Ask yourself:

    • What’s working best in my life/career/business right now?
    • What key actions or projects do I want to focus on in the next quarter?
    • What do I still want to achieve this year that I haven’t started?
  5. 5 Personality Traits Super Happy People Share

    Are you happy? Only 33 percent of people would reply “yes” to that question, according to the 2017 Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness. Those results are perhaps unsurprising. We face more pressure now than ever before in our lives and careers. The world is an increasingly chaotic, noisy place.

    Most of all, happiness means different things to different people, and because of that, there are many paths to achieve it. While one person may thrive in a fast-paced, competitive environment, another person may value being able to do their work alone in solitude.

    While the “how” of happiness may vary between individuals, new research has found that there are a few personality traits that correlate strongly to better well-being.

    The study conducted by positive psychologists, Jessie Sun, Scott Barry Kaufman, and Luke D. Smillie, broke down the classic Big Five personality framework into more nuanced dimensions, which allowed them to paint a more specific picture of what contributes to well-being and happiness.

    In their results, they found five different “personal paths to well-being”:

    1. Enthusiasm

    Sociable and expressive, enthusiastic love to laugh and have fun. They tend to have more positive emotions, self-acceptance, and purpose in life. This reflects in their happiness levels:  people high in enthusiasm report higher life satisfaction and stronger relationships.

    2. Low withdrawal

    Everyone gets overwhelmed and turns inwards sometimes, but those low in withdrawal handle it more gracefully. They are lower in neuroticism, which means they experience less anxiety and aren’t as self-conscious.

  6. The Fastest Way To Turn Around Job Burnout

    If you want to understand just how bad burnout can get, consider the story of Melissa Sinclair, an employee at Time Out New York.

    Melissa rose to internet fame in recent weeks after Time Out New York inadvertently posted an employment listing on the job-search site Indeed that detailed her current unmanageable workload. The post explains, “Currently, we have an agreed budget of $2,200 per issue for a freelance Photo Editor, 10 hours work at $22 p/h, which would normally be completely fine, however the issue is that Melissa physically cannot find good enough candidates to fill these freelance positions, and at the current rate of magazine production, she needs multiples people available to work on multiple cities, simultaneously. Because she can’t find people for these freelance positions, she’s been forced to do all of this work herself and is currently completely swamped and overwhelmed.”

    Unfortunately, a lot of people reading the posting can probably relate. Fifty percent of Americans say they are constantly drained by work—a figure that’s nearly tripled since 1972, according to the 2016 General Social Survey, an annual sociological survey conducted each year by the research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. The costs of burnout are huge. Left unchecked, chronic stress contributes to depression, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.

    If you’ve personally experienced burnout, you know first-hand how difficult it can be to recover. Sometimes no amount of time off (even if you take it) seems to help.

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